Casey joins wave of Dems; Toomey says call ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate’

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Laura Ol­son Wash­ing­ton cor­re­spon­dent Laura Ol­son can be reached at 202-780-9540 or lol­[email protected]

WASH­ING­TON – Add U.S. Sen. Bob Casey to the cas­cade of Democrats now sup­port­ing the newly launched im­peach­ment in­quiry against Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Un­til now the Penn­syl­va­nia leg­is­la­tor stayed on the side­lines as fel­low Democrats called for an im­peach­ment probe, declar­ing that he needed to re­main im­par­tial be­cause he would need to vote if an im­peach­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­ceeded to a Sen­ate trial.

But on Wed­nes­day, af­ter the White House re­leased a memo de­tail­ing a call in which Trump re­peat­edly prod­ded Ukraine’s new leader to in­ves­ti­gate po­lit­i­cal ri­val Joe Bi­den, Casey said there was “new ur­gency to take ac­tion.”

“It is as clear as day that this is an abuse of power,” Casey said dur­ing a call with re­porters. “No one look­ing at these facts could say oth­er­wise.”

Penn­syl­va­nia’s other U.S. sen­a­tor, Repub­li­can Pat Toomey agreed that the con­ver­sa­tion with Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy was “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” — but not im­peach­able, say­ing it re­vealed “no quid pro quo.”

“While the con­ver­sa­tion re­ported in the me­moran­dum re­lat­ing to al­leged Ukrainian cor­rup­tion and Vice Pres­i­dent Bi­den’s son was in­ap­pro­pri­ate, it does not rise to the level of an im­peach­able of­fense,” Toomey said in a writ­ten state­ment.

The sen­a­tors’ com­ments came a day af­ter House Speaker Nancy Pelosi an­nounced the be­gin­ning of a for­mal im­peach­ment in­quiry on Trump’s in­ter­ac­tions with the Ukrainian pres­i­dent. In that call, one piece of a whistle­blower com­plaint sent to con­gres­sional in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees Wed­nes­day, Trump raised al­le­ga­tions that Bi­den sought to in­ter­fere with a Ukrainian prose­cu­tor’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of his son Hunter, ac­cord­ing to the White House memo.

The pres­i­dent also urged Ze­len­skiy to work with the U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral and Trump’s per­sonal lawyer, Rudy Gi­u­liani, to in­ves­ti­gate Bi­den’s son.

Casey said it was “to­tally ob­jec­tion­able” for Trump to talk to a for­eign leader about a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent as he did. (Casey has en­dorsed Bi­den in next year’s elec­tion, but says that is sep­a­rate from his sup­port for im­peach­ment.) Casey also was crit­i­cal of Trump men­tion­ing his per­sonal lawyer as he did dur­ing the of­fi­cial call, and of ask­ing the Ukrainian leader “to do us a fa­vor.”

“If there isn’t a law against this, we need a damn law,” Casey said.

Casey an­nounced his sup­port for im­peach­ment in a lengthy state­ment that in­cluded foot­notes to news ar­ti­cles, the Mueller re­port, and re­ports from pre­vi­ous im­peach­ment cases.

He said he had been at­tempt­ing to as­sess whether Trump’s con­duct meets the bar for im­peach­able of­fenses. The re­cent rev­e­la­tions, Casey said, rep­re­sent “a text­book abuse of power.”

“My con­cerns about the pres­i­dent’s con­duct have grown over months, par­tic­u­larly as I thor­oughly re­viewed Spe­cial Coun­sel Mueller’s re­port,” Casey said in the state­ment Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. “Pres­i­dent Trump’s most re­cent ac­tions with re­gard to Ukraine have cre­ated new ur­gency to take ac­tion.”

Other con­gres­sional Democrats also have felt that ur­gency. A swell of House Democrats added their names to the list of those sup­port­ing im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings in re­cent days, as ad­di­tional de­tails have trick­led out re­gard­ing the whistle­blower com­plaint.

Rep. Su­san Wild, D-Le­high Val­ley, who was among swingdis­trict Democrats pre­vi­ously re­luc­tant to sup­port im­peach­ment, also shifted her stance this week. Wild said af­ter the memo’s re­lease Wed­nes­day that “an im­peach­ment in­quiry is the only way to get all the facts the Amer­i­can peo­ple de­serve to have.”

House Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing Rep. Dan Meuser, whose dis­trict in­cludes Car­bon and Schuylkill coun­ties, have blasted the probe as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

“It’s clear that there was no quid pro quo and that it was rea­son­able for them to dis­cuss the po­ten­tial cor­rup­tion that may have tran­spired be­tween the for­mer vice pres­i­dent and Ukraine,” Meuser said. “The Democrats be­lieve this jus­ti­fies im­peach­ment. I do not agree and I’m quite sure any rea­son­able Amer­i­can, Repub­li­can or Demo­crat, does not agree ei­ther.”

Many de­tails of how the im­peach­ment probe will pro­ceed in the House re­main un­clear, and Casey de­clined Wed­nes­day to fore­cast what may come from the in­quiry.

De­spite his clear po­si­tion that Trump’s ac­tion mer­its an im­peach­ment probe, Casey said he still be­lieves he could ful­fill his role as a ju­ror in a po­ten­tial Sen­ate im­peach­ment trial.

That would re­quire him to de­cide on whether to con­vict and re­move the pres­i­dent, which Casey said would be a dif­fer­ent ques­tion than whether to be­gin in­ves­ti­gat­ing.



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